Cerebral palsy patient receives life-changing surgery

A Rochester man receives a life-changing surgery giving his more function in his arm and leg.
Published: Aug. 3, 2022 at 6:05 PM CDT
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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – Corey Schlenker was born with cerebral palsy, a group of disorders affecting the left side of his body, limiting his arm function and his balance while he walked.

“I was getting tired of my arm being up like this and being afraid of falling,” Schlenker said.

Last winter, during a checkup at Mayo Clinic, Schlenker was approached about a surgery that could fully extend his arm and help him walk with ease.

We asked him if he felt any hesitation when he was asked.

“No, not with me. Not with me at all,” he said.

The surgery is meant to rebalance the muscles and nerves in Corey’s arm and leg giving him more extension and function.

“The surgeries that we do are trying to reset that balance,” Mayo Clinic Hand & Microvascular Surgeon Dr. Peter Rhee said.

Dr. Rhee performed the surgery on Corey’s arm in March and his leg in June, and he has been in physical therapy since.

“They’re resilient, and they’re truly an inspiration to us who take care of them. I think if we can just give them hope, it’s just nice to see that glimmer in their eye like I didn’t even know you could do that,” Dr. Rhee said.

Schlenker is now able to walk with more confidence, fully extend his arm and is working on fully using his arm and hand.

“I’m already starting to swing a golf club. It’s awesome,” he said.

Schlenker never thought he’d be able to do the things he is doing today. Now he wants to thank his doctors.

“I think the fact that he has so much hope and optimism is what’s allowing him to do so well,” Dr. Rhee said.

“Without you, we had no idea this was even possible, and I’m going to beat the odds. I’m gonna do better than you’re all expecting. So thank you,” Schlenker said.

If you or a loved one are experiencing arm or leg pain due to a brain or spinal cord injury, experts recommend seeking out options and talking to your healthcare provider. For more information on Mayo Clinic’s upper limb reconstruction, click here.

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